The days might be getting gradually longer (I mean, we’re talking a matter of seconds at the moment, but every little helps) but I’m not seeing a whole lot of improvement in the tiredness stakes. There’s just something about this time of year that makes is A) impossible to get out of bed, and B) incredibly difficult to survive the afternoon without requiring a nap under your desk.
But we have good news. There are things other than caffeine you can consume to make you feel less tired. Witchcraft! Seana Forbes, Nutrition Specialist at fitness app Freeletics, runs through a few food options that will keep you mentally focused and alert until it’s time to go home and collapse on the sofa:
Aside from being delicious and versatile, avocado is also extremely energising. It may be loaded with calories, but its high (healthy) fat content, including omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, fights bad cholesterol, increases blood flow to the brain and helps the body absorb other nutrients. In addition, avocado provides more protein than most fruits. Since we need carbs, fat and protein for sustained energy, it’s this combination of nutrients that makes avocado an amazing energy booster.
Apples are rich in fructose, the predominant sugar found in fruit. Fructose is the body’s preferred source of energy, and apples – or indeed any fruit high in fructose – will provide a steady supply of energy to your brain and body for longer. Apples can also help to curb any hunger, or sweet cravings you might experience through the day.
Sprouted grains are whole grains (brown rice, oats, buckwheat etc.) that have been soaked and left to germinate. The process is said to make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients it wants and needs, therefore making B vitamins, vitamin C and folate more readily available to the body, resulting in more energy.
Macadamia nuts – and most nuts and seeds for that matter – are some of the best snacks to beat fatigue and fight hunger. At 160 to 200 calories per small handful, macadamia nuts are a concentrated source of energy, containing all major macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, good fats etc. Just remember: although nuts are good for you, they are also high in calories, so should be eaten in moderation.
Not only do blueberries taste great, they’re also energising and can even boost your brain function. Blueberries are a great source of manganese, a chemical element often found in minerals in combination with iron, which plays an important role in assisting certain metabolic activities in the body, one of which is converting carbohydrates and fats into energy. Studies have also shown that blueberries can help to prevent memory loss and cognitive decline.
Not just another hipster trend – matcha is a great, energising superfood. Matcha is made from entire tea leaves that have been ground into a fine green powder, therefore containing all the powerful minerals, antioxidants and amino acids found inside the leaf. Unlike coffee, the caffeine in matcha is absorbed very slowly, giving you a sustained energy boost rather than just an energy spike. It’s the combination of caffeine and l-theanine, a rare amino acid that results in matcha’s miracle effects, such as an increase in concentration and attention. Just what you need to get you through the afternoon slump.
Dark chocolate is rich in theobromine, a natural stimulant similar to caffeine. Dark chocolate can also stimulate serotonin production, helping to elevate mood, which can provide an added energy lift. In moderation, the caffeine and sugar in chocolate won’t lead to an energy crash. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the less sugar – and the more energy-boosting potential it has.
Kale is one of the richest nutrient sources on earth, jam-packed with the essential vitamins and minerals that your brain depends on. Kale is also a source of plant-based iron, a nutrient required – especially vegetarians and vegans – to carry oxygen to our tissues and cells. Low levels of iron in the body can lead to exhaustion and feelings of tiredness.